City Manager's Monthly Report - August 2015
Welcome to the newly formatted City Manager's Monthly Report! With the June 2015 Report, I moved to the Blog format. Instead of attaching all of the various bits of backup information (making for a rather large file) it includes them as links via the Town's website. Lastly, each sectional entry includes the date the information was provided to the City Council.
Please remember, the City Manager's Monthly Report is a consolidation of issues, communications, and Town activity during the prior month. As I review the information to include, I will remove duplicate updates in favor of the most recent, remove information regarding events that have already occurred, and edit information that requires update - hopefully to make it more useful. Overall, the information is generally the same as it was presented to the City Council in their weekly Council email.
I am moving to this new format in an effort to speed up the time it takes me to prepare the retrospective report and improve up-to-date transparency on relevant issues. Hopefully, it proves more functional, informative, and useful. Your feedback is appreciated!
The Report reads with the most recent first. As always, if you have any questions or comments regarding the Monthly Report, please feel free to contact me via email or phone.
Town of Atherton
August 28 Report to Council
1. League Annual Conference
The League of Cities Annual Conference is in San Jose at the end of September. I will be attending on Thursday. The September Agenda includes an item to identify the Council’s voting delegate. Please let Theresa know if you will be attending and we can complete the Resolution appropriately. The League has a Resolution Process and a Resolution Packet. Please review if you plan to attend. One item of note in the Resolution Packet is a piece of legislation related to the collection of transient occupancy tax (TOT) on intermittent short-term rentals (AirBnB, VRBO, etc.) and the requirement that these entities not advertise where such uses are prohibited locally. While the TOT is supported readily by localities with a tourist population, the caveat that these businesses cannot advertise for short-terms rentals in communities where the use is prohibited is helpful to communities like Atherton.
2. Finance Committee - Audit Oversight
At the last finance committee meeting, an issue arose regarding oversight of the city manager's approval authority under the town's purchasing ordinance. Robert and I discussed the issue and set up a follow-up meeting with the chair. We met with the Chair this week and discussed ways to address the concerns raised.
We talked through the purchasing ordinance process and the role of the committee. I suggested that Bob consider formation of a subcommittee to review the checks and back up material after they are signed by Robert but before before they are signed by me. I suggested that this could be done on a quarterly basis via a phone call from Robert to the chair of the subcommittee. The chair could randomly decide yes we will or no we will not conduct the review. Bob liked the approach and felt it would add more oversight and a level of comfort in the role and review of the finance committee. The discussion and recommendation will be on the next finance committee agenda.
When discussing my suggestion with Bob I wanted to make sure that everyone understood the role and purpose. The purpose of the oversight is not to question the purchases or contracts (such as why did we buy a hard-drive, did we really need it? why are we replacing that motorcycle? why are we paying for vision-coverage, is it really necessary? why did we buy a new office chair from Staples when Office Depot had a better delivery system? why did we buy that police car?, etc.); rather, the purpose is to ensure that the Town’s purchasing policy is followed properly, that there are appropriate back up materials, that there are formal and/or informal bids when required, and that approval limits are not exceeded.
3. Event Garden Delay
The Foundation received bids for the Event Garden Project and they were higher than anticipated. There may be delay in the start date of the Project. We will try to accommodate as much as possible. Events are the Park may be impacted.
4. Vandalism at the Park (Cameras)
You are all aware of the recent fountain vandalism at the Park. This is being investigated. Here is a link to a photo of the fountain vandalism.
As you may recall we are working on the installation of cameras at the Park in key locations. The first step in this is to install a base system and then expand it. The initial cameras will be focused on the Felton Gables Gate area (presently blocked by the Little League Facility) that is presently a dead zone. The second will be focused on the Facility restrooms near the Tennis Courts.
Once installed, expanding the system will simply be the price per camera ($2k-$3k).
5. Meeting with Menlo College/Menlo School and Adjacent Neighbors
I have scheduled the meeting with Menlo College/Menlo School and the adjacent neighbors for Thursday, October 8 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm in the Council Chambers. Notice will go out on Monday.
6. August Planning Commission Meeting
The Planning Commission, at its August 26, 2015 meeting took the following action:
• Appointed Commissioner Lane as Chair and Commissioner Widmer as Vice-Chair
• Denied the request for a Variance at 52 Marianna for a guest house in the front yard
• Approved a Lot Line Redesignation and approved a Heritage Tree Removal Permit for the removal of two Palm trees at 458 Selby. Denied the request to remove three heritage Oak trees.
• Approved the Special Structure Permit at 33 Walnut Avenue for an addition to a legal-non confirming residence.
• Accepted the Annual Master Plan Update and TDM Reporting for Menlo School.
• Approved the Addendum Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration, Approved the Variance and Approved the Conditional Use Permit for the Menlo School Central Campus Project.
• Recommended the City Council Approve the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Civic Center Master Plan.
The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for September 23, 2015.
7. Stevenson Tree Issues
Staff met with the property owner and contractor at 97 Stevenson this week.
97 Stevenson is a site development. Sally Bentz, Town Arborist, approved three trees for removal. They are removing additional non heritage trees on site. Sally walked the site with the foreman of West Coast and did not see anything that they were doing illegally. Concern was expressed regarding screening. That will be addressed at the end of the project. In the meantime Sally will discuss with the project manager screening options.
85 Stevenson- not under construction. Sally approved one Oak tree in the front that failed last week. While the tree company was there, they had topped a whole row of redwoods that were acting as screening. Sally will be addressing this with the owner at 85 Stevenson and working with Code Enforcement to fine the property owner for illegally topping the trees. They are required to maintain the screening.
8. Removed Trees @ Park & Valparaiso
Staff was conducting site visits in the area and observed that the property owner had removed a large Heritage Oak from the Town right-of-way on the Valparaiso side of 297 Park Lane (no permit). Sally conducted an evaluation of the tree and we may look to impose a $16,000 fine. The complicating issue here is that the property owner is represented by former Town Arborist Kevin Kielty. Mr. Kielty is advising the property owner that the tree was a hazard. We will be working this one out for a bit.
9. Peninsula Clean Energy Meeting
I attended the Peninsula Clean Energy meeting last night in Belmont. On the Agenda were presentations from Marin County MCE and Sonoma County SCP - in particular, their governance structure. Linked here is the Peninsula Clean Energy PowerPoint - from the August 27 Meeting. The PowerPoint walks through what a JPA is and the various key points of a Clean Energy JPA that might be formed in San Mateo County. The County is taking the best parts from both MCE and SCP. As you review the PowerPoint, if you have any questions on how the JPAs operate (in particular, voting) let me know and we can walk through it. The expectation is that a governing document (JPA Agreement) will be before the local agencies in early 2016.
10. El Camino Real - Menlo Park Council Meeting
Linked here is the Daily Post Article - August 27 - Bike Lanes in Menlo Park. In the article it states that “Transportation Manager Nikki Nagoya said city officials have meetings already setup with Palo Alto and Atherton to get feedback from the cities about the pilot program.” No such contact has been made nor have any meetings been set up.
August 21 Report to Council
1. Caltrans Letter - ECR HAWK Beacon
We received the August 10 Letter from Caltrans (Bijan Sartipi, District Director) regarding their installation of the hybrid beacon on ECR. Last week staff also spoke with Senator Hill’s office on the timing of the project. The letter is in response to Congresswoman Eshoo’s letter. Most of the information is typical response; however, there is a clause at the end of paragraph 2 noting that they will “…include a clause in the contract to specify this intersection [Alejandra and ECR] as [the] first order of work.” Hopefully this occurs.
2. San Mateo County - Closing The Gap Task Force
We received the linked August 13 Letter from Supervisor Groom - Closing the Gap inviting the Town’s participation in the County’s “Closing the Gap, the San Mateo County Affordable Housing Task Force.” Supervisors Horsley and Slocum are co-chairing the Task Force. It will meet monthly over the next year to discuss issues related to affordable housing in San Mateo County.
The first meeting is Thursday, September 24 from 7:30 am to 9 am at 264 Harbor Boulevard in Belmont. The City Council representatives for the Regional Housing Needs Analysis (RHNA) are Wiest as primary and Lempres as alternate. For ABAG, which also addresses affordable housing, it is Wiest as primary and Lewis as alternate. The issues discussed as part of the Closing the Gap Task Force will likely fold into ABAG and the RHNA. The Mayor advised that Council Members Wiest and Lempres are the appropriate representatives. They have both been advised. Staff can attend if one of the two subcommittee members cannot make a meeting.
3. Paint Spill on Selby @ Atherton Avenue
On occasion, there will incidents that occur in the Town’s right-of-way that cause damage to the Town’s right-of-way (divits, paint spills, gouges, curbs damaged, pilasters, etc.). Where the Town can trace the damage back to a particular party (most often a construction site) we will attempt remuneration for the repairs and/or collect from a damage deposit in the instance of a construction site. Where it cannot be traced, the Town is faced with repair if it is a safety issue or “living with it” if it is something that will wear (such as paint spills).
We received a complaint about the paint spill that occurred on Selby near Atherton Avenue. It will not wash out, but it will fade over time. The only way for immediate cleaning is to slurry over it. Given the extent of the spill, we will be including an add-alternate in the next round of slurry projects so that we can assess the spill at that time and determine the cost-effectiveness of a separate slurry over it.
4. Meeting with the SFPUC
Staff met with Michael Carlin and representatives from the engineering division as well as real estate division. We met on site. We explained the project, the need for relocation of their line and the issues at stake. I was very frank with them with respect to timing, funding, and needs. We discussed two significant issues. The first was that from our records, the SFPUC only has a permit for a portion of the line - not an easement. The second was their revelation that the line was a wholesale line owned by the SFPUC and that this distinguished it from other lines.
Easement versus Permit
We discussed the easement versus permit situation noting that our records reflected only the permit. They advised that they were on the hunt for the easement and believed that there may well be one. As of yet, they have not found it. Gordon will be sending them a summary email giving them a date certain before we consider the possibility of revoking the permit to initiate movement of the water line. They suggested that this might create a public relations issue for the Town.
They revealed that the line was a wholesale line and not a normal distribution line for the SFPUC. The distinction is that in order for any work to be done on the line the parties to the line (Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Stanford, and Cal Water) must approve and pay for the work. Essentially, they look at the line as a service lateral and not a distribution line. They suggested that we contact the parties to the line and initiate discussion to have them facilitate (i.e. pay) relocation of the line. The SFPUC owns the line but they do not have financial responsibility for it.
At that point, I suggested that if we (they) were unable to locate an easement and considered revocation of the line, what authority did the SFPUC have to force relocation of the line upon the parties to the line. We discussed this a bit. They were a bit concerned about that approach and will be getting back to the Town directly. Michael expressed in hypothetical that they would advise the parties to the line that the Town is considering revocation of the permit and if it occurred that they would be forced to either appeal the action (administratively and legally) or comply and relocate the line. Legal costs and the system being what they might be, it might be more cost effective to relocate the line. Purely a hypothetical discussion but worth noting that they had not really thought that scenario through.
During the meeting I agreed that if the SFPUC were to relocate the line that the Town would provide them with a proper easement not only at that location but at other locations where there are permits but no easement (their ask). I also agreed that the Town would incorporate the project as part of our Civic Center Project bidding out the pipeline relocation as part of our project and managing the work (again, their ask). There is financial savings in doing so. The funding would be a separate piece.
We refreshed the timeline with them as well as the reality of whether we were ahead or behind schedule at this time. We left the meeting with a list of items for them to return to us. Gordon will follow-up with an email and an ETA. Once received, we’ll review and assess next steps. This is forward movement on the issue.
5. Extension of No Parking Zone on Selby near School
As the Council is aware, staff has been working with Selby School and a couple of neighbors concerning the extension of the No Parking Zone to address a few local issues. We have added a No Parking sign in front of one residence to extend the zone. The sign was a replacement for a sign that had been removed a while ago. With respect to the signage in front of the other property, staff is able to extend the same No Parking Zone; however, the property owner wants a 2-hour parking sign instead. I do not have the authority to add that sign without a City Council approval via Resolution which must first go through the Transportation Committee. The resident has been advised and is aware of the process required.
August 14 Report to Council
1. Tennis Court Incident(s)
Staff received a call from Mike Jessup regarding a parent/child interaction at the Tennis Courts. The parent is a key holder and not a part of Mike’s instruction or camps. Mike advised the Town that the parent was “verbally abusive” to the child on an almost daily basis during their use of the court. Mike felt the interaction bordered on abuse. There was no profanity involved, but the volume of the conversation extended to all 6 courts. One of the regular key holders confronted the gentlemen about the behavior and it became a very heated discussion - which also caused Mike some concern.
Mike addressed the situation as well suggesting that the man “tone down” his instruction; however, this has not changed the situation. As the Town’s Tennis Facility Manager and summer camp instructor, Mike may well be a State Mandated Reporter for the purposes of child abuse. However, given the details, the behavior at this time likely does not rise to the level of a mandated report. That said, the parent definitely needs to tone down the behavior. We have advised Mike, as the Tennis Facility Manager that if he has advised the man to tone down the behavior and the behavior disrupts other activities on the courts and in the Park, that he can be removed from the facilities. The PD is involved and will assist as necessary.
2. Kelli Robertson, Office Specialist
Kelli Robertson, Office Specialist in the Public Works Department is retiring in September. She has been with the Town for 12 years. We are cross-training Judi Herren (front counter) in Kelli’s responsibilities to allow us time to do an appropriate recruitment.
3. Resurface of Tennis Courts
On Monday, August 17 we will begin resurfacing the Town’s tennis courts. We will do three the first week and three the next. After conferring with Mike Jessup and Bob Roeser, we will be changing the surface colors to the standard for USTA and US Open events - blue court with green border. These colors provide for better optics and contrast as well as help players as they will be practicing on the same type of courts on which they play their competitive matches.
4. Ball Field Rental
As the Council is aware, we rented the ball field for a summer camp for Menlo Park Legends for two weeks during the month of July. This went well.
We have received a request from Menlo Park Legends and from St. Raymonds (PPSL) to use the field two days a week each for 3 hours a day through November. This activity does not interfere with Menlo Park Little League or AYSO/Lacrosse. We will be renting the space with conditions - soft balls only, no interference with adjacent fields, and only children under the age of 12.
5. FIRM Map Updates
FEMA has updated their preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). FEMA has determined that there are no Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) within the Town of Atherton. This determination does not preclude future determinations of SFHAs that could be necessitated by changed conditions. At this time, there is no action that needs to be taken by the Town.
6. Refuse Rate Subcommittee Work
Every year, the South Bay Waste Management Authority (SBWMA) conducts a review of Recology’s rates via a Compensation Application process. The Town’s Subcommittee (Widmer/Wiest) will be meeting with staff to review the Application for 2016. The total SBWMA service area wide surplus balance with Recology at the end of 2016 is estimated to be $6.5 million. This will result in a recommended overall rate reduction of 6.5%. Ten agencies (to include Atherton) require no rate adjustment and only two agencies have recommended rate adjustments. Recology’s total compensation decreases in 2016 from 2015 by $375,000 (-0.7%) due to the indexing of most cost adjustments including CBA wages and benefits; and lower fuel index adjustment of negative 18.5%; and lower interest expenses as scheduled.
The Subcommittee will be reviewing Atherton’s rates and while we may not require an increase, the Subcommittee will also be assessing the cost-recovery status of existing rates and recommending adjustments as appropriate.
7. Menlo Atherton High School
Menlo Atherton High School’s first day back is Tuesday, August 18. The Police Department, together with the Sheriff’s Department, CHP, and Menlo PD are working with MAHS to improve their pick-up and drop-off patterns and smooth the flow of traffic around the school during the pick-up and drop-off times. This will not be a quick or easy process considering the location of the school, the surrounding roadways, and the number of students.
There will be extra traffic enforcement during the first week of school and as often as possible in the few weeks following. Areas of focus include:
- Vehicles stopping on Oak Grove in the “No Stopping/No Parking” zones;
- Vehicles blocking the roadway and intersections;
- Pedestrians walking across red lights and blocking the roadway; and
- Bicycle safety issues
8. Caltrain Station Updates
Linked here is a letter received from Caltrain as a follow-up to a meeting held on August 4 with Paul Jones, Mike Kashiwagi, Rosemary Maulbetsch, and Casey Fromson. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the current status of station repairs. The letter responds to additional items discussed in the July 15 letter. Specifically, the need to increase the scope and frequency of current maintenance activities, response to graffiti complaints, and concrete repairs.
9. PG&E Meeting with LHA
This week staff meet with LHA and representatives from PG&E to discuss the tree notice, management, and removal issues along PG&E’s gas pipeline route along Ringwood. Staff’s impression was that the meeting went well. Only 1 of 30 trees needs to be removed and that tree is the Elm on Menlo Atherton High School Property/Town Right-of-Way at Middlefield and Ringwood. All other trees are management under PG&E standards.
10. Revenue and Event Logs
Linked here are the July Park Events Log and the July Revenue Logs.
11. July PD Activity Report
Linked here is the July PD Activity Report.
12. July Community Services Report
Linked here is the July Community Services Report.